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Taking the Reins: 5 Tips to Managing a New Health Challenge

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Imagine you've just received a diagnosis from your provider, like hypothyroidism or type 2 diabetes. As you try to process all the information about this diagnosis, questions start to arise. You wonder if you truly understand how this will impact your life, and you’re not sure how to move forward.

In today’s fast-paced world, I have talked with many patients who find themselves in this situation. Many individuals feel a little lost or overwhelmed when facing a new health challenge, and that’s completely understandable.

However, there's one crucial thing every person can do to navigate these challenges: become their own health advocate.

Where do you start? Here are some practical things you can do.

1. Educate yourself.

When you receive a diagnosis, take some time to learn about it. Do this as soon as possible, so you can have a better understanding of what’s going on with your body.

Think of it like this: when you're on a plane, they always say to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Your health is just as important. So, ask your health care provider for print outs or resources about your condition.

Knowing more gives you power and helps you make decisions moving forward.


2. Ask questions.

During appointments, don't hesitate to ask questions. As a health care provider, I can assure you: There are no stupid questions when it comes to your health!

Make sure you understand the purpose of your medications, potential side effects, and long-term implications of your condition. Identify what caused it your health condition, how to treat it and what might happen if you don't take care of it.

3. Make lists.

Make lists – before, during and after appointments. Whether it's jotting down symptoms, medication names or topics to discuss with your health care provider, organizing your thoughts can help you navigate appointments more effectively and prioritize questions.

I so appreciate when my patients play an active role in guiding our conversations together. This way I know we are discussing what matters most to them.


4. Find your support.

Remember, you're not alone in your health journey. Reach out to friends or family for support. I encourage patients to also consider joining an online community to connect with others facing similar health challenges.

5. Start small.

If the idea of being your own health advocate feels overwhelming, start small! Just take one step at a time, whether it's researching your condition online, keeping a symptom journal, or asking your provider to explain things in simpler terms.

In my own experience, trying something is better than doing nothing, and I’m always glad I did – especially when I felt intimidated at first!

Primary care near you

Remember: Becoming your own health advocate is a journey, not a destination. So, embrace the responsibility of caring for your body and take small, proactive steps to ensure your well-being whenever you can.

If you’re not already doing that, today is a great day to start! If you'd like to establish care with me, I’m located at St. Luke’s PS Rudie Medical Clinic, downtown Duluth, and am accepting new patients.

To establish care with any St. Luke’s provider, visit or call 218.249.4000.